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Can he legally obtain my cell phone records and bills?

October 3, 2017

Going through a divorce is a very stressful and emotional situation. However, things can be even more heated if there is the belief that one of the parties committed infidelity. Generally, the majority of people today use cell phones as their primary form of communication. While this is a great convenience, it can also cause a lot of problems for a person when they are seeking information during a divorce that would otherwise be considered “private.” It’s important to know the details of whether a former spouse can legally obtain your cell phone and cell phone bills during a divorce.

Subpoenas in a Divorce Case

If one of the parties has reason to believe that their spouse cheated during the marriage, he or she can obtain the cell phone records and bills of the other person during the course of divorce proceedings. For this to be legal, however, a divorce must have already been filed with the court or you cannot get a subpoena for the records. If no divorce has been filed and the couple is still together, neither party is legally obligated to turn over such information. A subpoena during a divorce case specifically states everything that must be turned over as well as requests for the party to testify, which is typical in divorce cases.

What Takes Place During the Discovery Phase?

In some cases, a subpoena may not actually be necessary in order to obtain the spouse’s cell phone records during a divorce. In Long Island or anywhere else in the state of New York, the individual’s divorce attorney can request the records during the discovery phase of a divorce case. That is the period where the lawyer requests evidence as part of the proceedings. Generally, there are laws surrounding the discovery phase that is usually done in place of serving a subpoena or filing.

Other Ways of Acquiring Information

The two traditional means by which a divorce attorney can acquire cell phone records and cell phone bills from their client’s spouse are through discovery or by obtaining a subpoena. However, there are additional methods to which they can turn as well. The spouse can also just directly gain access to the phone to find information. He or she could make copies of text messages if the phone is left unattended while both parties are still living in the same home. Another way for the spouse to obtain the messages is to make copies if the cell phone bills are not exclusively in the other person’s name. However, it’s important to note that information acquired in this manner is usually inadmissible during the divorce case.

How are Cell Phone Records Used in a Divorce?

Typically, cell phone records and bills that are obtained during the course of a bitter divorce can be used in more than one way. First, they can be used to prove that there was infidelity during the marriage. Cell phone call records from the wireless carrier can be used to prove the same. All the information can be used during a trial to prove specific things. Additionally, it can be used as leverage during settlement negotiations.

Other Notable Vulnerable Areas

Because everything is connected these days, people to think about more than just their cell phones. Information found in emails and social media are other focal points for a former spouse to use against the individual. Such records can also be used after being obtained through a subpoena in a divorce case.

Protecting Yourself

A person cannot protect himself or herself against a subpoena that is legally served to obtain the cell phone records. Keeping the cell phone secure at all times and changing passwords on email and social media accounts is the only way to be protected. It means the former spouse would have to file a subpoena to be able to access the information.

If you are going through a divorce in Long Island, it’s important to hire a skilled New York attorney. Contact a divorce lawyer at your earliest convenience.

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